In 1980 Bob Crandall became president of American Airlines, a company suffering from market deregulation and rising fuel costs. In the first quarter alone the company lost $19.3 million, nearly $500 million in today’s money. Crandall was faced with a sink or swim moment.

The first thing he did was, he went back to basics. After selling off their under performing hotel chain and redesigning the airlines flight routes, Crandall focused on why people used American Airlines. He then set the company the goal of being “the cost effective worldwide carrier.”

This focus became the ‘true north’ for the organisation on which everything was to be measured, right down to the last olive. When Bob Crandall communicated this vision to his team, he challenged the need for an olive in the salads served. Cutting one olive from each passenger salad plate would go on to reduce costs by $40,000 per year. (over $90,000 in today’s money.)

The world today is noisy and people are faced with a never ending stream of distractions. The only way we can cut through this mash of media is to focus our message with laser like clarity.

Here’s how to apply this in your next presentation:

1. What is your goal?

  • What do you want to happen?
  • What do you want people to do, say, think or feel?
  • Get absolute clarity in what you want

2. Communicate it simply 

  • Think like Bob and put it in one sentence “Cost effective worldwide carrier.”
  • Make it relevant and meaningful to your audience
  • Empower people to put it into action

3. Pick out the olives

  • Remove anything that does not add benefit to your message
  • If it does not apply to your objective or audience, pluck it out!

Your goal is to feel the ‘click’. You can almost feel it when you are giving a presentation and the audience understands what you are saying and is on board with your vision. 

Clarity is king. If people cannot understand or remember what you said, they cannot act on it.

If you’re having trouble – it’s OK I’m here to help!

Sharon Ferrier
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